The Effects of a University Yoga Class on Nutritional Habits of Students

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Department of Kinesiology, California State University- San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA
Healing Yoga Foundation, San Francisco

Amy Wheeler, Ph.D.

It appears that the youth of today are living on fast food and sodas, more so than previous generations. It was hypothesized that slowing down to take a bi-weekly yoga class could positively impact students living in this fast food generation. The purpose of this study was to look at the eating habits of university students and to determine if these habits could be positively impacted by participation in a 10-week yoga class.

Seventy-nine university students, 72 females and 7 males were asked to fill out a questionnaire pertaining to nutritional habits. The questionnaire asked questions such as, “Do you eat breakfast?”, “ How many times per week do you eat fast food?”, “How many eight-ounce glasses of water do you drink per day?”, How many 1/2 cup servings of fruits and vegetables do you consume per day?”, “How many servings of whole grains do you eat per day?”, “How many 12-ounce sodas do you drink per day?, “How many 8-ounce servings of coffee do you drink per day?, and “How many servings of sweets (candy, cakes and sugary treats) do you eat per day?”. The students then took at 10-week yoga class, twice a week for 90 minutes, in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya. This style of yoga has a heavy emphasis on the synchronization of breath and movement. At the end of the 10-week quarter, each student was asked to fill out the same questionnaire regarding nutritional habits. Data was analyzed using SPSS 14.0 with paired-sample t-tests at a 95% confidence interval.
Results: Results showed that many of the nutritional habits of college students were impacted positively by taking the 10-week yoga class. College students reported eating breakfast 1.2 times per week at the beginning and 2.0 times per week by the end of the quarter. Although this is a trend in the positive direction, it was not statistically significant. Unfortunately, the fast-food habits were also difficult to impact through the yoga intervention. Students reported eating fast food 2.7 times per week at the start of the quarter and 2.0 times per week at the end. This was a promising trend, but not statistically significant. Water intake was impacted significantly. The average beginning number of eight-ounce glasses per day were 3.4 and the ending number of eight-ounce glasses per day was 4.3, t(71)= -3.7, p

These data demonstrate that a twice a week group yoga class does have a significant impact on the nutritional habits of university students in terms of increased water intake, increased fruit and vegetable intake, reducing sodas and coffee as well as sweet treats. The habits of eating breakfast, eating fast food and more whole grains showed positive trends, but were not shown to be statistically significant.

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